Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 UPON US

I want to wish all my blog followers a happy new year. I am going to try to be intentional about keeping this blog up. So many times, I feel as if I have no words to share that are relevant to anyone's life. And there is only so much of writing about myself that I can stand!! Thus, the great gaps in posts.

We went to Mpls the day after Thanksgiving and spent that weekend with the kids, just hanging out. They came home for Christmas....only could stay 48 hours, but it was meaningful time together. If you are a FB friend, you may have already seen the family pic I posted, but for you non-FB friends, here is our newest. Photography compliments of Gretchen Hieb Schuett, our niece.

I have my next set of brain and lung scans in 3 weeks or so. Anxious to see what the tumors are doing. I have gone from a woman highly-anxiety ridden facing these scans to a woman who doesn't even blink anymore when they clamp the MRI helmet onto my head. No small achievement, that.

Happy New Year! I hope for us all, 2017 will be full of contentment and God's grace.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Can a mother make a shameless plug for her son? 

If you are going to order anything from Amazon, could I suggest that you access the amazon link via Sam's web site. They have a large amazon access point on the right side of their home page and it takes you right into where you shop and order as usual. His Cold Omaha Sports team gets a percent of whatever you buy.

Again, that is


Thursday, December 1, 2016


I have spent the majority of my days this fall purging my home. It was long overdue. I am far from a hoarder, but we had saved far too many things for various reasons. We got rid of things out of every closet, drawer, cupboard, bin and room. We took loads to charity, the garage, the landfill (old furniture and broken bikes), and sold stuff online. We went through every Rubbermaid bin the storage room and got rid of stuff that we have had forever and were not using.

I finally gave myself the grace to let go of some things I had been keeping "because Dad liked those on me" or "because Mom made it for me." I was ready to not stuff drawers any longer with cards that I once got that Sam has absolutely no interest in reading or keeping some day. Much of this doing is for him. I don't want him to have the laborious task someday of going through this stuff (and admittedly, much of what I sorted was just "stuff") and throwing it all away cavalierly. Better for me to triage it all and leave only what is meaningful.

Everything is labeled and easy to get it. Shelves are neat and not crammed with anything. Minimalism takes on a life of its own once the purging has started!!

The lightening of our load has not only left us with a very organized and clean house, but it frees me in a big way. I want how I live to matter, and what I choose to keep around me shapes my life. What I choose to let go of allows my life to lose weight. It has re-calibrated my soul with simplicity. 

In the purging, I find more space in my life for less.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


We had a super fun weekend with Gretchen and Sam on his birthday weekend. Sam had given us tickets to the Vikings game on Sunday for Mother's and Father's Day. It was an amazing experience being in the new stadium. Truly mind-blowing. The Vikings' loss was super disappointing, however.

The kids served fabulous meals and we took a walk and watched a truly good movie, "Concussion," and just generally hung-out together. 

Came home and starting today, I am upping my dose of chemo for 3 months to see if we can knock out those last tumors. That is my prayer: remission. Hope I don't have any more side effects than I already do.

Richie is in Mexico for the week so I am the keeper of the keys around here. It is quiet.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I had a lung scan yesterday and it looked relatively stable. I always want to hear "remission" but I accept stable. One tiny patch had increased slightly in SUV uptake, but she was not concerned. I won't have to have another til January; I made the decision to have a brain MRI and a lung scan the same day. Lucky me.

Yesterday they found that my lung which had been slowly getting more and more fluid in it had taken a large leap. My doctor made a phone call and 15 minutes later I was over at Avera Hospital getting my lung aspirated. I felt like a maple tree being "tapped" for syrup. They showed me the jar. ONE QUART of fluid. He said, "You'll lose two pounds!" It looked like a stein of beer with froth on top!! So the past day and a half have been pretty uncomfortable, painful at times, as the lung is adjusting to this empty cavity. I am trying to stretch it by taking occasional deep breaths, but my whole side and shoulder ache. This is to be expected.

In a week I should be able to deep breathe without difficulty. ONE QUART! I didn't hear "sloshing around sounds" once!!!

Richie is going to Mexico in 11 days for our nephew's wedding. He's trying to brush up on his Spanish. His sister has a whole week of activities planned so he should have a great time.

We are having a beautiful autumn "last hurrah." Hope you are too.

Monday, October 17, 2016


We had a wonderful trip to the Harper's Ferry area. That Dubuque/Decorah/southern Minnesota area is just beautiful in the fall. My mom's cousin (their grandmothers were sisters) Dolores, since Mom has died, has sort of taken ownership of the Bolger family lore and I know we blessed her by letting her give us the tour and listen to the stories.

We saw Paint Rock cemetery where some ancestors were married in the now-torn-down chapel, and several are buried there. Then we went down into Bolger's Hollow, an unbelievable expanse of land with bluffs all around. The Hollow is where my ancestral home was first built in 1850 and a couple more were added as the family grew up and had their own homes. So peaceful and serene. I can see why my people stayed there for generations.

Then we checked out the Wexford church where my people went to Mass on Sundays. It has the grave marker of among others, my great-great-great-great grandmother Catherine Bulger (They changed their name spelling).  

Dolores regaled us with family lore that was rich and made the trip very special.

The rest of our trip was meandering without firm plans.....except to bless anyone who the Lord led us to bless, and we had 3 of them. It was so fun! It brings so much meaning to be willing to do something for others and be used. I love the intentionality of making road trips not all about our pleasure only but a way for God to put us in situations where he wants others blessed.

The funniest moment was in a restaurant. Our excellent and sweet server came back to our table to see if we wanted a dessert. She picked up the check and I said, "One lemon meringue pie, to split." Just at that moment, Richie handed her a large tip and told her what a great server she was and I told her that she was really good at what she did and praised her work. Her eyes got huge and a little teary. She slapped our check back down on our table and said, "Your pie is on the house!" Here we were trying to bless her and she blessed us right back.

Those are the moments that make travel more than miles.

We are off to Mayo Clinic for the week for Richie's legs. I pray that after 20 years of chronic pain, they may be able to help him. We are going with the same goal of making it a blessing trip.

Here are a couple pics.

Cousin Dolores
Dolores is pretty sure this old barn is original

More of Bolger's Hollow; you could have built a small town in it, but it remained in the family for generations

The ancestral Bolger home was on this site. It was torn down in 1900 and this home was built. It is still lived in.

Wexford cemetery

Morning along Dubuque's Mississippi Riverwalk

Dubuque's Riverwalk

I have to share with you "proof" that the Holy Spirit has our backs. We had been planning our first retirement trip for the past year. Savannah, Georgia. A year of anticipating seeing our best friends in Athens and then spending the week on the coast. In July, I had a strong check in my spirit. I didn't feel like we should go. It didn't make sense. Why was the Holy Spirit telling me to cancel this long-awaited trip? I "sat on it" for a week and then shared my feelings with Richie. Without understanding whatsoever, we cancelled our trip.

When was it supposed to be? October 1-8, the week the hurricane blasted Savannah. 

Monday, October 10, 2016


This is a shout-out to my young friend Jess. I saw her when she brought her kids into the nursery at church yesterday. She looked fabulous! She had done it! She had lost all of her baby weight! She told me (and I’ve heard the same lies for years) so many women told her that she just wouldn’t be able to do it, that your body just keeps the pounds on, that you can’t work and diet off baby weight…..they are such awful old wives’ tales, downright lies. No wonder women let their bodies go after having a baby.

But Jess did it and she is so thrilled that she did the work. She told me, “Besides wanting it for me, I really want to be a fit and athletic mom for the girls.” And she wanted to do it for her husband. I was so happy to hear that. The women who don’t do the work never look like the women their husbands married. I wonder if those husbands silently harbor great disappointment.

Jess, you look beautiful and fit and active and I am proud of you!! You are glowing! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Richie and I are leaving on a little road trip tomorrow....our first since retirement. Instead of just making a leisure trip, we are calling it a "blessing trip." We are making it intentional. We are asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to people along the way that might need a blessing of some sort. Words of encouragement. Prayers for healing. Words of affirmation. Money. Physical help. Whatever it may be. We are trusting that He will speak to both of us and that the trip might be one full of meaning for us. Nothing better than being a blessing to others.

We are headed over to my great-great-great grandmother's ancestral home in Harper's Ferry, Iowa. She came with her family during the potato famine in the 1850's. There is even a hollow named after them to this day. We will check out all the family haunts with my mom's second cousin whose ancestral home is still there too. Then we are going down to Dubuque---people say it is beautiful---and hang out there. We may also do the Root River Valley but rain is forecast. Will play it by ear.

I hope to share lots of blessing anecdotes with you!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


OK. I am back in business, home (why do the spiders think they can take over a home and make webs everywhere as soon as they realize you are gone?) to a house that needs a huge amount of attention. We have 31 things on our to do list. Truly. Yesterday felt so good...we got rid of some old 45-year-old furniture in tatters and took it to the dump. We moved Dick's desk  (well, not me but our wonderful friend and Richie's colleague Brandon) from the den upstairs to downstairs and now Richie is starting to organize a man cave. He has tons of books and stuff from his office that was just heaped down there when we left. A guy came to hook up cable TV in there and we have Dad's "pheasant" Lazy-Boy for him. There is a bed if he want to nap and cozy carpet and once he is organized, I think it will be a room he loves. Am buying him a laptop today as a retirement gift so he even has his own computer. 

My brain cancer is eroding! Praise God! Of the original 16 tumors last year,there have been only 5 as of spring left. Those 5 they have been watching. And yesterday, 2 of those were unchanged, 2 were slightly smaller, and the 5th, they couldn't find!! I am so grateful for this gift. I will have another lung scan in 3 more months and see what those are doing. The last report said "stable." I will take that again!!

The summer? Cool. Used the heaters every morning because the cabin was so cool. I was in the lake once. I wore shorts 3 times. We have had very hot summers in the past but not this one....will go down as the coolest (maybe 70 by afternoon) and rainiest we remember. I read maybe 25-30 books! The upside of cool and rainy days!!

We had 2 reunions, 2 weddings, a Twins game, a baby shower for my sweet niece Betsy, my brother's bluegrass June gig which we went into Duluth to see, etc. We were on the go. 
We took a field trip one morning that we have wanted to take for years. We found "The Lost 40" and walked the trails through it. It is 40 acres of virgin pine (some so tall you can hardly crank your neck back far enough to see the tops). It remains virgin timber because it was platted incorrectly when they did logging in that area decades ago. It is now a protected piece of land.

Here are a couple pics from the summer.  We don't take many any more. When Sam stopped living at the cabin with us in the summers, we don't have the camera out much! We did not capture any pics of our mama deer and her twin fawns, but they walked by the front windows a few times. We saw plenty of herons and loons and often, an eagle.

Dick in the LOST FORTY
Mornings on the lake were so quiet

Me in the LOST FORTY

Dick and Sam built this cool new fire pit near the shore.

A snapping turtle crossing the road

My brother Mike's amazing bluegrass band, ROADKILL BOYS. Mike is in the Coke shirt.

My physical strength is still poor from the steroids eroding my muscles. I can't bend or pick up anything or get a pair of pants on or squat without a lot of pain and having to hold onto something. My balance is bad because the radiation affected my inner ear. I have some vertigo. I need to get a hearing aid now because of the inner ear issue. That does not make me happy. I feel like I am 80 years old some days. Nothing can be done about the vitreous detachments in my eyes. I long for clear vision again. 

That said, I have been granted LIFE right now and I will live with these deficits until such a time as God chooses to heal any of them. My husband stands in the gap for me about anything I cannot do. Anything I struggle with, he just picks up the slack. He is a blessing.

Sam has a new part-time job that I pray with grow to "big and prominent" one day soon. It is a long-story God thing how it was thrown in his lap. He and former NFL Quarterback Sage Rosenfels do a 20-25 minute podcast on the new website LOCKED-ON (Sam does it solo on Tuesday and Thursday). They talk Vikings. Angles, predictions, after-game breakdowns, inside scoop from Norm Zimmer that Sam gets at press conferences, etc. It is good stuff. Their  "listenership" is growing daily and they need those growing numbers to continue.

These duos have been formed all over the league for every team for the NBA and the NFL. He is in some astute company. Paul Allen, the "voice of the Vikings," was asked first and he declined so Sam was asked!

If any of you are Vikings fans, you will enjoy it. Check it out! The podcasts are at

There is a summary of that day's topics under each podcast. Even if you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, your going to that podcast and clicking on it counts toward their numbers. If you check it out, thank you!

Happy autumn!!

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I owe my blog readers a big long post, which I intend to do this next week after my chaotic life (from moving home) is under control and we are all unpacked and settled. I will wait until after Wednesday when I get the results of my Monday Brain MRI.

In the meantime, I leave you with this image: Lest any of you think I am a self-absorbed woman who cares what others think of the way I look, think again. There is no glamour at the lake. Most days, I am "poor pitiful Pearl." This was "all ready for boating on a very cool September morning."

Will be talkin' to ya......

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


For those of you who are checking in and wondering about my PET scan results, I am happy to say that they were good. Barely discernible change in both SUV uptake and size. They considered it "stable disease." The boys and I are very grateful!!

I am spending a couple weeks being an activist on my lakeshore, soliciting signatures for people who want hi-speed internet brought in, Not only is everyone interested, but I've had the fun of meeting all these new cabin owners ----all so nice.

Going to a wedding in Mpls this weekend and next weekend tto Dick's class reunion. Been a busy summer. Thanks for checking in!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I am on the grid for about 30 minutes, then I will be retreating again into cyber-obscurity. We have had to admit it is tough to live without internet these days. Even our cell phones cannot get clear calls. Some texts just don’t get to us. While the internet can be used for heinous reasons by evil people, for those of us who need to google something or find an address or check email, it becomes almost a necessity-----and we are without. It gets tougher each year.

Summer has not officially begun in northern MN. Maybe 8-9 days of sun and warmth. It’s been heavy with clouds and cool and rain. We have not been in the lake and only have fished once (I went with Sam and Gretchen one evening where we resembled the 3 stooges trying to release Sam’s big northern from his lucky lure).

Had my whole family out for a day and night. 22 of our 26 Hiebs could come and we had such a great time together. Our last connection was at Mom’s funeral and we needed a year later, to just love on each other and laugh and talk. It was a special time. We missed Anna and family who are in Denver.

I have a PET scan next Tuesday. Mom’s birthday. We will drive all the way home to do this. Enough of using local medical care for oncology issues. It is a lung scan, not another brain scan. My muscles still are daily painful and stiff and I still can’t squat and get up yet. I have faith that God will someday restore my musculoskeletal system.

Dick works hard every day on the shore and in our woods. He was born a woodsman. We want to get the cabin painted too. I am painting and distressing some old tables and trying to learn how to etch words into barnwood. Dick brought me a bunch of old barnwood he got at an abandoned farm in North Dakota over July 4th weekend in Kenmare. I am so tickled. LOVE barnwood.

My biggest treat is a new dryer which will be delivered in a week. My 40-year-old dryer, held together front to sides with duct tape, will be going to the landfill. It still works, but the duct tape, after 3 years, can’t keep holding the heavy pieces together. It’s all sagging. It is time.

Hard to believe summer is half over. We got a late start this year, but can make up for it by staying a couple weeks into September. Reading some really good books. I will try to keep track of them and post them later.

Hope you all are having a good summer!                                               

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Dick's retirement party was really special. Friends, past employees and students came to honor Dick. He was given his emeritus title, officially, and had 4 of his faculty (and former faculty) get up to say how Dick has influenced them and students. The Dean of Health Sciences was a real dear man, has only been here for two years, and yet he knew Dick well enough to say, " Three words to describe Dick are a man of action, humble, and loving." He said he was an exemplary professor. I was so moved that he really knew him. Indeed, he is all of those. The students mentioned a couple "funny incidences with Dr. Ekstrom, like the time he schooled us in 3 on 3 basketball." Some humorous stories.

It would take many paragraphs to tell what they said about my guy, but Sam and I were very touched. I don't think any kid is tuned in very much to the impact their parents have on others in their workplace. I think it was so great that Sam could be there to hear what his dad has meant to so many.

I put up just a few of the pictures Dick's colleague Joy took that day, including one of the 2nd and 3rd year classes who wanted one last picture with one of their best profs. Sam and I are so proud that he is our husband/dad!!

Retirement official starts for him in 5 days. A new life ready to begin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


For the second time in my life, I have experienced identity theft. Once about 8-10 years ago, and now. Dick and I have become pretty anal about never sharing our credit card number over the phone and very careful even on the internet when it is encrypted. But the only thing which we never do----and did, carelessly, while on vacation in March, was give our card to the server in a restaurant to pay our bill. It must have been then. NEVER again do I hand that card to another person who is not my family. When they bring the bill, they will have to deal with me following them to the credit card machine!

Luckily, Chase, our credit card company, caught the hacker. It amazes me they catch someone trying to use your account. They notified us immediately and we closed down our account and they gave us new Visas. It is a great company to take care of theft. I had my new card number memorized in about 10 minutes, so all is good. (For anyone raising their eyeballs at that, I admit to having a numbers thing. I still know my 13-digit VIN number off my 1974 green Chevy Vega and my dad's serial number when he was in the Army.)

Dick's retirement party is tomorrow. He teaches til the 10th and then retirement starts. Things really won't feel any different until fall when he is still at the cabin in late August and September and not sitting in a PT class. Sam is able to come tomorrow!

Our animal control officer just left. I had him set a raccoon trap in our yard. One recent morning I happen to look down into my window well and there were 3 very large piles of feces. Richie and I wondered who had paid us a visit, so we googled images of "animal poop." Instantly we knew that we had a raccoon who preferred to do his business in private. It was cleaned up and about a week later, it happened again. I have pictures, but I am going to restrain myself from publishing them. We cleaned it up (we as in Richie) again and I poured a gallon of beach in the well. Saw 2 more live raccoons in the neighborhood this week. We battened down the window wells with plywood and bricks and now animal control is setting a trap. One across the street too, I guess. I'm anxious to see if we trap one!!

We are packing up for the lake. Anxious to get up there.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


A happy and positive start to the summer. I got my brain scanned this week and heard good news. Of the original 16 tumors (8 in each hemisphere of the brain) and more little lesions "too many to  count," 1.5 years ago, today they saw only 5 small tumors, stable or decreasing in size. My Healer God is faithful and true to His word. 

Richie and I took a load up to the cabin and lived to tell the tale of snowfall on Opening Fishing Saturday. It was 30 for a HIGH that day and we got about an inch of snow. Nobody was fishing. The whole 5 days we were there were very cold. Was wishing I had my winter parka. I got a lot of reading done! We got the water on, but my hearty husband even turned down the opportunity to get in the lake to put the dock in. Wonder why.

Fishing Opener morning. 25 degrees

Richie's retirement party-----for any friends in the area who want to come----is June 1, 3:30-5 at the Med School atrium. Short program at 4. 

It's beginning to look alot like summer out there. Enjoy it, all.

Monday, May 9, 2016


On Friday was the Hooding Ceremony (essentially their private graduation ceremony) for Dick's 3rd year graduates. I had to go this year since it would be his last. 

Retirement is bittersweet. 

The students asked him if he would be their keynote speaker again this year. He did a great job of inspiring and challenging them in their profession and reminded them to keep their job in perspective.

At one point, 2 of the students got up and surprised Dick with gifts from the class and with a testimony of his "brilliant teaching" and his appreciated "wisdom". They said some other wonderful and funny things about him. I was moved to tears. They were grateful that he was so patient answering their "dumb questions." (I thought to myself, he gets a lot of practice at home!!).

Keynote Speaker

The class had a few words and some gifts.

After graduation, Slagle Hall

Dick's PT Faculty colleagues

Dr. Ekstrom, retiring after 46 years in the field of
Physical Therapy

Dick also received the very well-deserved designation of Professor Emeritus of the University of SD. Another reason to smile.

He will teach summer school, have a retirement party on June 1 (to which all are invited), then we will go up to the cabin mid-June. Retirement, here we come!!

SO SO proud of you, Richie!! Everywhere you have worked, you have done so with great integrity and abounding knowledge. Your students were are both brilliant and wise!

Love you past the moon.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


I did two things this week that I have not been able to try for over a year. I slowly jogged the length of our house and our next door neighbor's house. My legs felt like burning stumps. I notice that I can't lift my feet as far off the ground as I could before steroids and thus, I have to be ultra-vigilant for uneven cement on the sidewalks. It felt good. 

I considered it a tiny victory.

I also took the big step of getting out my bike. What if I was to fall again? When I first got on the bike, I looked like a 4-year-old who had just had her training wheels taken off her bike. I was wibbling and wobbling in the street for about 1 minute before my instincts took over. Balance is so different after steroids. We biked up to the cemetery where we enjoy the solitude and pretty trees. 

My worst fear came true as my bike slipped on just a little rut (which in a normal situation I could've righted the bike and kept on going) and I fell sideways, my bike on top of me. Luckily I fell between the large granite headstones of person A and person B, rather than on one of them, essentially assuring that I would have cracked my head open. I landed on a 3 foot wide mound of soft grass between them and I was grass stained and unhurt. Praise God for that.

If I was not living in this body, I would laugh at myself and how crazy my life changes are when my musculoskeletal system is not functioning as it should. I walk the laundry basket full of clothes up the stairs from the basement and I can barely reach the top step without stopping and letting the burn ease up. I bend down to look at a bottom shelf item at a store and I can't squat up without holding my thighs. 

All of this is not to complain. I am so blessed in so many ways. I am in absolute awe of my niece Kate who ran the Boston Marathon in great time. I would be in awe of her anyway, but when you can't run any longer, you realize what a gift that ability really is.

Don't take your agility for granted, folks!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


I am always sad when I hear a Christian say, “I am just an imperfect sinner saved by grace.”

As if that is all we are.

True, we ARE sinners, and true, we are saved by God’s grace, but the saving means so very much more. We need to know our identity in Christ.

One of the most exciting things about being a Christian is knowing God sees us with no flaw or imperfection because we are seen by Him through the lens of His perfect Son (Col 2:10, 2 Cor 5:21). That is given to us as a gift through the death and resurrection of Christ. That fact underlies our identity, or our position in Christ’s family.

What IS our position in Christ? Christian friends, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). HEIRS! The Bible says we are seated with God in heaven at the Father’s right hand. (Heb 10:12).

Heirs of the Creator of the Universe, with all the rights and privileges that go along with being His heirs. We are royalty in the kingdom of heaven!!! Jesus’ brothers and sisters!

Just sinners saved by grace?

Oh, so very much more than this. In many places the Bible says:

We are saved.
We are new creations.
We are rescued.
We are redeemed.
We are blessed.
We are favored
We are delivered.

We shouldn’t diminish or be modest about who we are in Christ. I believe the Lord wants us to celebrate our identity in Him.

John tells us that Christ is in us and we are in Him and He is in the Father (John 17:21). An intertwined family, with God the Father our Papa, our Abba (Gal 4:6).

I want to be a believer who calls myself not just a saved sinner, but as GOD sees me: (Psalm 5:12)

…..a richly blessed and highly favored daughter of the King!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Painting a house with others is a unique experience.  

Richie and I went to the Cities to help Sam and Gretchen paint the outside of their 2-story home this past weekend. God could not have created a more perfect 3 days of sun and clouds and 70 degrees, no wind. Excellent painting weather.

We were all on different sides much of the time, sometimes two of us for a time on one side. (Richie’s fearlessness on the 16-foot extension ladder painting the high peaks saved the whole project…..the rest of us were not “height” people)

What I enjoyed was the solitary nature of the work in what was definitely a group project. There was a gentle peace about the painting. It was you and your thoughts for most of the time. There wasn’t a lot of talking when we shared a side….there didn’t need to be. You have your own paint and brush and designated area and we were all concentrating on getting this job done.

Yet, the camaraderie was tight. If someone yelled “help with the ladder,” someone else immediately got down from his ladder to help. If someone yelled, “help pouring paint,” an aide appeared immediately.  Occasionally, the silence was broken with things like:

“Can you do this tighter space with your smaller hands?”
“Who needs water? I’ll go in for everyone.”
“Can someone turn the Twins Game up on the radio?”

They were wonderful easy-going help-each-other-out kind of days. We were able to finish all but part of the south side and the back side under the deck (the worst job for whoever gets it)!

I had not painted a house since we painted our cabin when Sam was a tyke of about 5 or 6. I had forgotten that it is a true test of muscle strength (which I do not have). Every muscle in my body ached including my feet from ladder standing, but I did what I thought I would never do again. I stood on the third rung of a ladder with no hanging on and balanced my body. That was a victory for my body, whose muscles are ruined by steroids.

We were honored that the kids thought we were both up to the task of two-story painting. Maybe their confidence in us is what made it all so very worthwhile and satisfying.

It was good practice for this summer's job of cabin painting. I was hoping we could put that off for another 20 years or so.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Five and a half years ago, the Holy Spirit gave Dick and me the gift of faith.....the supernatural gift of unwavering faith in God's Word, in His promises for healing. Clearly, we did not know that those promises could be spread out for so many years. But we have soldiered on, not giving up on what God says in the Bible about divine healing.

That faith has sustained us and calmed us. And we are seeing the fruits of healing beginning. Of my three lung tumors, only one has some cancer activity. My four metasatic tumors were not visible. I still have fluid in the bottom of one lung, but the cancer activity in the fluid they found in the biopsy last fall is gone. 

Dick and Sam and I have all expressed that we were unusually unworried about this scan. God gave each of us individually a sense of his peace. I have felt the beginnings of healing in the past couple months.

Like Chris Tomlin's new song, which I love, says: You're a good, good Father. That's who you are.

That, He is, a good Father. 

Thank you, Jesus, for this news.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I have rescheduled my PET scan now for the 4th time, which means 4 doctor visit reschedules too. I have had the crud for over a week and the cough keeps hanging on. The drainage in the back of my throat is like a faucet says the nurse, but at any rate, my ability to lay flat and absolutely still without coughing is not possible yet. I thought it would be by tomorrow's PET, but by noon, I knew I had to cancel. So now I have until Monday morning to get this cough healed up.

Luckly, Sam and Gretchen both had just gotten over a week of the crud, so they were not in advoidance mode around me. It was great to have them home for Easter. A short trip, but a good one. We watched I LOVE LUCY DVD's, played games, went to Easter sunrise service and enjoyed the Easter morning breakfast afterwards. Sam got a haircut and we watched a little March Madness. (My bracket is in very sorry shape) 

I love Resurrection Sunday. Everything about my life is predicated on the fact of Jesus rising from that dark grave. It is a day of great joy, and even though I did not feel myself, I was happy to be sharing this great Resurrection Day with three of the people I love most in this world.

Gretchen and Sam have recruited us to help them paint their house in April. Weather permitting, we will go do that. I refuse to go on a ladder higher than 3 feet with my balance issues. Which pretty much assures me of not having to paint from a ladder!!!

I am progressing very slowly with my workouts. I am certain that the steroids caused muscle atrophy to a severe degree, as I still struggle to get ahead. But I am at the health center every other day and just doing all I can til my muscles burn. 

Have a wonderful springy April, y'all.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Richie and I just returned from a week's vacation in Branson, Missouri. It is a long jaunt of 9 hours each way, but it was good to "get outta Dodge" for awhile. While there we saw two shows; one of which was absolutely fantastic. So good, that at intermission I had tears falling from my eyes and I said to my husband, "I am so glad God let me live long enough to see this show!!!" We left the theatre thinking we will probably never see a show this good again. That is worth the trip.

I detest shopping and though we had a new mall and an outlet mall close by our condo, our sum total shopping purchase was 3 pairs of $50 shorts for Richie, all on clearance for $9 each at Haggar. The more I go into these outlet stores to look, the more I just shake my head. There is so much "stuff" in so many shoppes that people fill their lives with that would stifle me. I guess I am just content with what I have.

Our condo was two flights up from our car, and though there was an elevator, I challenged myself to walk the flights, which in my former life I would have run up and down. Steps are still very hard and slow. I had to stop after 1 flight to let the "burn" settle down for a second, but I kept at it each time we left in the car. It got easier as the week went on. And today we went to the health club and I was so happy to see my stair improvement. Maybe after another 6 months, I will again be able to run and down stairs.

On the way to Missouri, we spent an afternoon and night with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Kansas City. They invited our niece and nephew and their families over to see us and have dinner with us. It was a precious family time with people we do not get to see often enough.

I am going to an ENT on Monday. My hearing loss from radiation is getting worse all the time and I am always feeling like I need to pop my eardrums like when you fly. Dick has wondered whether my inner ear could have something wrong with it....something fixable. So I thought I would get it checked out. It would be amazing if my condition were treatable. Otherwise, I need to get a hearing aid very soon.

I have another PET scan of my lungs the end of the month. It will be interesting to see those results.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


My little family is relieved. I had a good report on the brain scans. God is slowly healing my brain. The Glory belongs to Him.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I love listening to challenging sermons on-line during the week. Most larger churches archive their sermons with summaries so you know what the subject matter is. I am a huge fan of Pastor Les Beauchamp of Lifegate Church in Omaha. I was smitten the first time I listened to him in person while visiting his church....was writing so fast to capture everything he said. He is an amazing teacher. They have other preachers on their staff who are also very good, but Beauchamp is the one whose sermons I seek out. He is a gifted and anointed Spirit-filled preacher.

Dick and I found a series on healing that we just listened to. The American Christian denominational churches of today have failed in teaching their flocks about the biblical truths of divine healing. (Beauchamp's church experiences healings every week) His teaching in this series was brilliantly crafted with the truth from God's Word. We soaked it in!

All of this is not to stand on any kind of soapbox, but to say that this ability to access great teachers by a few mouse clicks is a lifegiving gift from this digital age!

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I need to have another brain MRI. Having some symptoms. Dick and I had to cancel our spring break trip since we don't know what is on the horizon....we were so looking forward to it. The condo owner was gracious enough to refund our whole deposit.

Ask me how much I hate cancer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


I miss me.

The me before cancer.

I wish my new since-cancer friends knew that me. I wish my daughter-in-law knew that me. I wish my husband could live with that me.

Except for my relationship with Jesus, which has exponentially increased in richness, the take-aways have been many. Some profound. 

I have been teaching Gerontology for 35 years. So much of what I taught about the normal aging process is applicable to myself. I have the loss of visual acuity from the vitreous detachments, the loss of hearing from radiation, the muscle weakness and balance issues from the steroids, the huge memory loss. What else can this disease steal from me?

I miss the me that was sillier, more free-falling. I miss the me that was confident in walking 2 miles every day, unafraid of falling. I miss the me that did not have to ask my students to repeat themselves 3 times until I hear their answers. I miss looking out at falling snow without being glazed over by the vaseline-effect on my eyes. I want to read without the vitreous making marks all over my pages. My hair came in thin and sparse and around my forehead and top sides, no hair came in so I have alot of facial flesh. Too much. I don't like that I have been forced to become a germophobe to protect myself against any possible respiratory bug.

I feel more isolated, less quick to commit to anything, less quick to volunteer---not knowing how I will feel on any certain day. Maybe a soft shell started to develop around my sensibilities.

My husband loves me just as I am. For that I am so blessed. He also is the one who is most affected by my losses and the only person who intimately knows how they have changed me. His love and his support allow me to keep walking forward. His faith that healing will come and the old me will be redeemed means more than anything.

Perhaps the upside of all of this is that I have already had to adapt to all the aging-like changes that most of you haven't experienced yet. It is doable, y'all.

And God is still good. All the time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


It is time for a health club. The steroids of last year which ravaged my muscles do not have any self-recovery that is worth mentioning. Yes, I can walk up steps now with a handrail, but I am still very unbalanced and weak all over. I should have joined a club last fall but I did not know how I was going to react to the new chemo, so I needed to wait to see if I would feel able to go regularily.

Dick took me to get me started on the machines. He made a point right off the bat by putting me on the leg press and stuck it at a mere 60 lbs. Thinking I could easily handle that, I pushed as hard as I could. It was impossible. I went down by 10's, and when I realized I could only press 20 lbs, I realized how badly I need this. I am totally motivated to improve on all 12 machines in the next months. I am going to teach those steroids a lesson. So this week I am fairly sore; haven't used these muscle groups in so long.

I have gained 5 pounds and am thrilled to be only 3 pounds away from my fighting weight!! 

For anyone looking for a good book to read, I am captivated with BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus. It is by John Eldredge. All the biblical accounts of Jesus put him on a 2-dimensional plane....He is full of love and compassion. Eldredge, who I love as a Bible scholar and a terrific writer, extracts the 3-dimensional Jesus and looks at His fierceness, his cunning, his exasperation, his irreverence, his humor and playfulness, his extravagance and other character traits. I am reading my New Testament in a whole new light. You just may fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Will be seeing our kids in the next couple weeks. Can't wait.                       

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I just came in from taking a bad fall on my walk today. People haven't shoveled snow from yesterday and I took a step on ice still covered by snow. Landed on my left shoulder and left hip, wrenched my back, and came within a couple inches of slamming my head on the sidewalk. My guardian angel was on duty, I know. It could have been so much worse. I ached all the way home, but decided that long-term soreness is exactly what the enemy wants, so I rebuked his intentions to make me sore in the name of Jesus. Within about 15 minutes, the aching was all gone. I am so grateful.

        Angel of God, my guardian dear
        to whom God's love commits me here
        Ever this day, be at my side, to light,
        to guard, to rule, to guide.

        (Did anyone else grow up with this little prayer said every day?)
          I still remember it. I still believe every word!

I saw my oncologist Monday and told her my decision not to comply with the recommended uppage of chemo dosage. I am at 3/4 of the recommended dose. I am simply unwilling to risk side effects. I said no to a brain scan and to a bone density shot. When you grow up a DK (doc's kid), you probably have a little more moxie when directing your own health care. 

Am still doing well on the new chemo. Except for the chronic chemo-constipation, I am fine! Still praying over every capsule, and will continue to do so!

God has healed my 24/7 nausea of the past 8 months, which is such a relief. He has also healed my lack of apptite and lack of thirst. I am eating as much as my husband. It feels remarkable not to be nauseated. I am drinking milk like the dairy cow population is dying.

For all the prayers, Dick and I can't thank you enough.